One segment of the American work force is speaking out on behalf of wind energy development, in Pennsylvania and across the country. Military veterans say their experiences in the oil-rich Middle East have convinced them that the U.S. should be doing more to encourage domestic alternative energy sources.
Some have chosen new careers in the field, including Duane Enger, who works for Gamesa in Pennsylvania. He’s an Army veteran of Iraq who develops wind projects, and he’s not shy about his interest in the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is waiting for congressional action for renewal.
“There’s 37-thousand-some-odd jobs that are on the line, and to be honest, mine’s one of them. And so I’m concerned and I’m interested in seeing the Production Tax Credit be extended.”
The Production Tax Credit gives a little more than two cents back to wind producers for every kilowatt-hour of power they generate. Enger says the uncertainty about its renewal has already prompted companies to slow or cancel wind projects and lay off workers, including at his company.
Veterans’ interest in wind technology doesn’t surprise Michael Breen, a former Army officer who now heads the Truman National Security Project. Breen says many of the skills learned in the military translate well to clean-energy industries, including the willingness to take on a new challenge.
“And the clean energy sector is like that: it’s a dynamic, emerging place; new solutions are being put forward that are going to make all of our lives better and make us stronger as a country. Veterans are naturally attracted to that sort of thing.”
The Senate Finance Committee has approved an extension of the Production Tax Credit, but the real question is whether Congress will take it up before the lame duck session ends. The PTC is set to expire at the end of this year.